The Contemporary Relationship

“Women want love and men want respect,” or “Men are from Mars, women are from Venus.”  How many times have we heard these sayings describing the differences between men and women? Does love weigh more than respect or vice versa?  The perspective of what men want and what women want in their relationships remains a mystery, and we all have an opinion about it.   Women want more than love, and men want more than respect.  Both partners should be given an equal amount of respect and love in a relationship. There is very little research if any, that shows if men are respected and women are loved, their relationships will last until eternity. There are a variety of ideas and testimonies on what makes relationships successful. I have also seen many of those same success stories in my own clinical practice as well.  So, let’s get into some things that have proven to increase the longevity of relationships and they are not just love and respect.  

Compatibility 

Are you compatible with your mate?  Physical compatibility is critical in relationships.  You and your mate should have similar sexual appetites, health, and wellness routines as well as similar  attractions to one another.  Are your interests similar?  Not having the same interest can increase conflict over time.  What is your ability to connect mentally and intellectually to one another?  Connection increases your ability to communicate effectively and solve problems that may arise.  Exploring compatibility begins in the dating phase of courtship.  Ask questions, communicate your needs, learn about the person sitting across the table from you.  If you are not compatible with someone you are dating, you may find that you are wasting your time.  

Be Yourself

There is a saying that an individual does not show their true selves until about 90 days into a relationship.  That is amusing because we do spend time attempting to impress the individual that we are seeing which forces us to forget who we really are at times.  Now, that does not mean that you meet someone on day one and tell them your life story, but it is vital that you feel comfortable being yourself as your progress in your relationship.  Acceptance is critical, and it fosters comfort, safety, and trust with your partner.  If you are not at a place where you can be yourself, you may need to reevaluate the status of your relationship and determine if it is for you. 

Communication 

Effective and respectful communication skills are imperative in a relationship. If you are not able to communicate your needs in your relationship, how will you progress?  Dr. John Gottman at the University of Washington concluded in a 20-year study that the best predictor of a divorce or end to a relationship is when both partners show contempt in a relationship.   Respectful and positive communication efforts where you and your partner can separate the person from the issue.  Pay attention to how you both are communicating with one another.  Honest and respectful communication is a two-way street.

Trust

Can your partner count on you? Are you reliable? Are you a person of your word?  Do you uphold the fidelity agreement in your relationship?  These are the things that increase trust in a relationship. When times are difficult, trusting one another to support the relationship is essential.  Fostering honesty in the relationship even when its hurtful helps with developing strong foundations during the most challenging times in a relationship. Discuss amongst one another what trust and honestly looks like. Understand what your partner needs to foster a trustworthy relationship.  

Similar Financial Goals

The problematic discussion of finances is one of the primary reasons that couples seek outside help in their relationships.  Discussing finances can be tough, especially if you do not share the same financial values.  Views on finances usually manifest very early in a relationship through observation of spending habits, way of living, and attitude as it relates to finances.  Finances are tough conversations to have in a relationship; it is crucial to understand where each other stands.

So how do we equate love and respect into increasing the success of your relationship?  Love and respect are to be reciprocated between both parties in a relationship.  As a matter of fact, The Good Men project discusses the needs of men as praise and approval, sexual connection, emotional intimacy, space, physical touch, and security.  Many of these things above are emotional connections that men desire to have with their partner, not solely respect.   Self-Made states that women want men who are honest, confident, motivated, respectful, clean, attractive, dependable, kind, and have integrity.  Women and Men are now sharing  Venus and Mars.  We are living on the same planet. We desire similar things in our relationships that include love and respect.  While we are very different, we are also very similar.  Growing your relationship is not an easy task, but keeping in mind a few of the tips above, can get you off on the right foot.  

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